I explored the trail earlier this month on an overnight camping stay in the Wenatchee area during my recent bicycle tour from Cle Elum, over Blewett Pass and up the Columbia River. The trail passes through natural wetland settings and urban parkland and offers spectacular mountain views from both sides of the river.
The paved loop is a wonderful 10-mile trail that hugs both shorelines of the Columbia River with bike-only crossings at the north and south end. It's heavily used by commuters and recreational cyclists, and it's also an excellent way for visitors to get a feel for the Columbia River environment.
The Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail (see map below) got it's start as a 5-mile waterfront trail system along the Wenatchee waterfront in 1990. Within five years the section across the Columbia River was finished and the two sides were connected by paths over a pipeline bridge in the south and Route 97-2 bridge in the north.
Today the trail is busy with bike commuters as well as recreational cyclists.
I discovered it as soon as I set up my camp at the Wenatchee Confluence State Park when I saw streams of bicyclists passing on a nearby trail. I locked up my trailer and enjoyed a nice spin on my bike without all the added weight.
From the park, the trail immediately makes a scenic crossing of the Wenatchee River over a footbridge. It passes a wetlands — accessible by foot — where lots of shorebirds and small animals feed and make their home.
For the next mile or so the bike path passes through the Walla Walla Point Park and the Wenatchee Riverfront Park. There's swimming here, as well as baseball and soccer fields, volleyball courts, as well as interesting sculptures. There's even a miniature steam-engine railroad that runs along the trail.
It's slow riding here; there are little kids on trikes, moms with strollers and folks walking dogs.
Railroad tracks run along this section of the Columbia River and the main part of downtown is across the tracks. South from the parks I came across a footbridge that spanned the railroad yard and accessed the redeveloped part of old Wenatchee. Here I found coffee shops, restaurants, as well as a bike/outdoors store.
Further south the loop trail makes a Columbia River crossing over an other pipeline bridge that also used to carry a streetcar between Wenatchee and East Wenatchee.
The trail on the eastern side of the Columbia River passes right along the shoreline and on bluffs above the river. While the western side has a park-like feel to it, the eastern side seems wild and natural. I kept stopping to watch hawks soaring over the river and quail and other small birds in the brush along the trail.
The river crossing on the north side is a separated lane on the Odabashian Bridge (US 97-2). From there is was about another mile back to the Wenatchee Confluence State Park where I started.
I used the trail a couple of more times that day to head into town for supplies and sightseeing. There are always bicyclists on it. In fact it's lit up in the evening, so people can take an evening bike ride after a hot day.
The loop trail was built and is managed by numerous agencies at the city, county and state level. It's great to see how their efforts paid off for the public good.
The charity bike tour raises money for the Mike Utley Foundation, which raises money to research treatments that will enable those with spinal cord injuries lead a full life. Utley is a former Detroit Lions football player who has battled to recover from a paralyzing injury during a game.